What a Time to be a Parent in Columbus

The Columbus Blue Jackets outdoor Winter Park

Being a child of the 90s growing up in Westerville, my family’s pilgrimages downtown were few, beyond annual trips to Columbus City Center for school clothes or for Red, White and Boom. It’s certainly not that my family was sheltering me or adverse to the short drive – it’s simply that there wasn’t a ton for families to do downtown.

My initial intention with this post was to highlight our first trip to the Columbus Blue Jackets Winter Park a few weeks ago. We took our daughter on a relatively mild Saturday and had a blast skating on an NHL-sized rink in the heart of the Arena District. With Columbus’ climate, outdoor activity can be scarce this time of year, but this is truly a remarkable amenity geared toward families that, quite frankly, I couldn’t imagine existing twenty years ago. Hell, it’s pretty unfathomable ten years ago.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich skating with his daughter at the Columbus Blue Jackets outdoor Winter Park in Downtown Columbus
CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich skating with his daughter at the Columbus Blue Jackets outdoor Winter Park in Downtown Columbus

After our skate, we checked out the new Fox in the Snow in German Village for a warm drink. I’ve always been a fan of the Italian Village location, and they’ve absolutely replicated the unique vibe and delicious drinks in German Village. We marveled at the fact that it was packed and busy in the middle of a cold Saturday. The clientele varied from college students to young hipsters to reading retirees to families with kids.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich's daughter enjoying her hot beverage from Fox in the Snow in German Village
CBUS Dads dad blogger Steve Michalovich’s daughter enjoying her hot beverage from Fox in the Snow in German Village

On this random Saturday, I had this feeling (that I’ve had many times before) that it’s a tremendous time to be raising a family in Columbus. No longer should parents feel that they’re banished to the suburbs. In one winter weekend, we made an afternoon out of outdoor ice skating in the center of our city’s downtown and feeling incredibly comfortable taking our daughter to a popular new coffee shop in the heart of an urban neighborhood. More importantly, we felt remarkably safe and welcome doing so.

By Steve Michalovich, Regular Contributor

Your Columbus Clippers

Skyline view from Huntington Park

If you’re a parent in Columbus, you’ve probably taken your kids to Huntington Park for a Clippers game. We took our two little ones on a recent Sunday, and we can’t wait to go back.

I’ve been going to Clippers games regularly since childhood (and the days of Cooper Stadium), but the opening of the new ballpark about a decade ago boosted my attendance, even as a childless adult. I’ve always admired the intimate, fan-first design of Huntington Park in that it provides various vantage points and ticket options.

For instance, we started this summer afternoon, sitting in the outfield lawn. After a few innings taking in the game from a blanket spread across the grass, we worked our way around the stadium, stopping at various kids attractions and activities along the way. Strollers are still a necessity for our operation, and not only are Clippers staffers accommodating, but it’s welcomed to move about the facility with one.

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Adults will be pleased that the beer is reasonably-priced and local options are readily available. The same is true for the food, which ranges from standard ballpark eats to local stops including City Barbeque and Bob Evans.

By the time we made our way to the sea of picnic benches stashed near the right field corner, we were ready for a bite.

As we finished our snacks, we posted up along the railing separating this areas and the bleacher seats. Both us and the kids could easily keep an eye on the action, while still prioritizing our socializing.

The view from the right field corner at Huntington Park
The view from the right field corner at Huntington Park

From this site, you don’t need kids (in fact it probably would be easier) to marvel at the gorgeous views of our city’s skyline Huntington Park has carved out for us.

This was just our second game with little ones, so we are still novices, but after digging into it, they unsurprisingly have an entire season-long program called MVP Kids Club dedicated to children, coincidentally culminating on Sundays. We will certainly look into this next season and beyond.

While we weren’t enrolled in the Club, the kids got to run the bases after the game. This was without a doubt a highlight for them and worth staying for.

Running the bases at Huntington Park post Clippers games.
Running the bases at Huntington Park post Clippers games.

Since this was my son’s first game, he was sent a certificate honoring this milestone. Hit up Guest Services while you’re there, and they’ll take down your information. It’s really easy and a fun memento.

My son's first game certificate from the Columbus Clippers
My son’s first game certificate from the Columbus Clippers

From my experience, there’s very few activities in central Ohio that are as family-friendly as a Clippers game in Huntington Park, that also satisfies the adults. And I personally take pride in taking my children to an urban environment that is safe and enjoyable for our family.

The season is close to over, so I recommend getting a game in before we are stuck waiting for 2018.


A Father’s Guide to the Columbus Arts Festival

I grew up at the Columbus Arts Festival. It has always been just one weekend of the year, but it stands out to me like any holiday or annual tradition. My father is an exceptionally talented artist. His art took him around the world, introduced him to celebrities, kept food on our table, and provided my siblings and me with braces.

However, I never saw much of that work. What I did see, (from the back of his art booth) was him being a rockstar once a year. Fellow artists, collectors from across the country and friends from long ago would stop by the booth to see what he created in the 52 weeks since they saw him last. They would tell old stories, crack new jokes, trade art, and make a lot of money (a concept that was very foreign to me at that time).

I, unfortunately, did not inherit his visual art skills the way my siblings did, but I did develop a lifelong affinity for the community, diverse passions showcased and the event as a whole. Now that I am a father, it brings me great joy to share this experience with my son from the other side of the booth. Here are a few of my tips to getting the most out of the experience for both you and your family.

Use alternative transportation. This will not be an easy option for all, but even if you are coming from outside the loop, consider parking a little ways out and grabbing a pedicab, car2go or Hopper Cart for a grand entrance to the festivities. For those of us who live closer, you can bike (Pelotonia has a bike corral this year) or take the COTA. My son loves buses. He loves to see them, he loves to sing about them, he loves to tell me how fast they are going, but mostly he just wants to ride the BUS!!

Bring friends and family. The best way to experience this festival is with children. It is a good way to strengthen relationship skills between children and their community by introducing them to people they are comfortable with in different environments. We take his Aunt Lindsay (LaLa) each year and give them a little alone time to pick out a piece of local art for his room.

Get your kid a drink. Preferably in a fancy cup, a coconut or something. It is amazing how children can associate mixed senses with memories at events like this. My personal suggestion is to get a big lemon shake-up and just request that they use A LOT less sugar.

Order off the kids menu. This festival has done a great job over the last few years in bringing in some great local food options. I am a fan of the food trucks but I am biased. If the lines are not long ask for a kids menu, they will not have one, but they will have fun making up options for you. If you go to Tortilla, order the “CBUS Dads Special.”

Dance! They have a special stage for it, but most importantly just dance!

Befriend a local artist. This is one of my favorite parts, I like eccentric, interesting people and this festival is full of them. My personal artist of the year is Andrew Lundberg in the Big Local Art Tent. If Franklinton is our renaissance district, he is our Michelangelo, partly because he can build/paint anything beautifully, and partly because he is a party dude (Cowabunga!)

Enjoy the activity village. You and your kin can screenprint shirts, beta-test video games, learn musical instruments, design an art tote, design jewelry, build a sandcastle, and so much more! (I’m especially excited to check out the catapult painting with Grayson this year!)

Listen to the music of the people in the city. GCAC is one of the greatest supporters of art anywhere. If you like the music at Independents’ Day and that we pay our artists, you have GCAC to thank. Thus, it is no surprise that they have not held back building this year’s lineup. Grayson will be on my shoulders with his bright blue headphones on a lot this weekend.

Breath and enjoy the experience. Just load up a bag with a clean outfit, a few toys, lots of water, tasty snacks, and let the festival be your guide.

This (as well as all of my blogs) has been edited by the lovely Miss Ashley Baker for co-parent consent, grammar, and to make sure my dad jokes are only kinda dumb.

-By Wolf Starr, Regular Contributor

Places We Love: COSI

CBUS Dads blogger Steven Michalovich is reliving his childhood with his kids at COSI in 2017, specifically the Kidspace.

In the much-appreciated spirit of gifting experiences rather than stuff, my amazing brother-in-law gave us a year membership to COSI for Christmas. If somehow you’re not familiar with COSI, Parent Magazine ranked it as the number one science center in America in 2008.

Parenthood gets even more fun when you can get reacquainted with activities that you enjoyed as a youth. COSI is a prime example. I have fond memories of going into the city to spend a day at the Broad Street location.

Now I get to do the same with my children, albeit to a new downtown location.

We went for the first time since my youth on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On a holiday for most schools, COSI was pretty packed, but we expected this, softening the blow.

With a two-and-a-half-year old, our time was 100 percent spent in the little kidspace. The vast amount of activities for young kids to do is remarkable. Everything, and I mean everything, promotes activity, creativity, interaction, and most importantly fun.

I’ll let the photos illustrate how COSI is one of the best, if not the best, place in town to take young children and let them explore. And we just scratched the surface. COSI has so much more for our family to explore as my kids get older.

Cheers to a new generation of memories.

By Steven Michalovich, Contributor

A Story of Helping Others and the Lessons Gained

After checking out the Huntington Holiday Train Exhibit at the Main Library, CBUS Dads blogger Steve Swift and his family witnessed something that proved to be a valuable lesson to his children.

I recently took the Friday before New Year’s Day off of work to spend time with my wife and kids. We spent several hours that morning at the Main Library in Downtown Columbus, mainly in the kids area searching for and reading various kids books, drawing and taking part in a bunch of arts and crafts activities and checking out the last day of the wonderful Huntington Holiday Train exhibit. Needless to say, the downtown library is a great place to spend quality time with the kids. On this particular day, our Congresswoman Joyce Beatty was being sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives in a ceremony on the second floor and there were a lot of people in the building. The mood around the library was filled with excitement, and everyone seemed really happy and cheerful.

When it became time to leave, we left through the front of the building onto Grant Street. As we were walking to our car on State Street, we noticed an elderly gentleman with a cane struggling to walk along the sidewalk. As I was thinking about helping him, a young lady came from across the street to assist him. At this point we were within a few feet of this interaction and overheard the lady sincerely attempting to escort the elderly gentleman to his destination at the nearby Grant Medical Center. The gentleman politely refused her assistance but accepted her offer to walk along and talk with him until he got to the Center.

When we got to the car I asked my eight-year-old son his thoughts about what the lady was doing. He knew exactly what had happened in that the lady was being nice and wanted to help the “old man”. We discussed how it is not only the right thing to do, helping others when we can, but it also has effects that go far beyond the action of simply helping people. We talked about how all of those people: the elderly gentleman, the young lady, the witnesses, and even us, will carry on more of an awareness of kindness and helpfulness that will transcend to other people we interact with – and that awareness will evolve into action which will help make our community even better.

While having this discussion and stopped at a red light on Spring Street, we then witnessed with the car in front of us a professionally dressed gentleman get out of his car and picked up a few large pieces of car debris from the road and placed them on the sidewalk near a trash can. I explained to my sons that the nice man was removing the debris from the road so that no other motorist would get hurt or damage their own car.

Our family was on cloud nine after this series of events and we talked about them more over lunch. It was a very positive experience to help close out the year, and I’m really thankful that the very fine people of central Ohio demonstrated this type of behavior for my family to witness.

By Steve Swift, Contributor

CBUS Dads’ Holidays Activities and Traditions

CBUS Dads blogger Mike Liddy checked out the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival with his kids

We’re in the home stretch before the holidays. You may be off work, and the kids may be home from school. Regardless, you may also be looking for some activities that don’t include going to the mall to best maximize this special time of the year.

We polled our CBUS Dads for some of their holiday traditions and go-to activities that may be a little less mainstream than the ones that are typically top of mind:

The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is a unique holiday experience. The Ohio Expo Center & State Fairgrounds are decked out with almost 40 displays of traditional (and some non-traditional) Chinese lantern displays all lit up. There are tons of fun things for the kids: a Finding Nemo display, a Christmas display, huge dragons, and tons of pandas. But, the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival also has flowers, fruits and a long walk through the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Don’t miss the performances, the shopping and the food either. The paths can be a little difficult to navigate with a stroller, but they’ve placed hard plastic matting over the grassy areas to make it a little easier to traverse. The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival goes until January 2, so there’s plenty of time to experience it, even if you can’t squeeze it in before the big one.
-Mike Liddy, Contributor


The older I get, the more I can relate to Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. It’s easy to get caught up in the holidays, putting a ton of pressure on ourselves to make the holidays super special for our kids. I can’t be the only that’s been here, right? Each year, Erika and I dig for the holiday event that our kids will remember forever. However, there’s one simple tradition that we look forward to every year. On Christmas Eve morning, we go out for breakfast, just the four of us. In the midst of rushing and endless family gatherings, there’s something awesome about just having a simple breakfast together. The location is flexible, but the last two years (and probably this year) we hit up DK Diner in Grandview. The diner atmosphere allows for sweatpants and they always have fresh donuts. Sure, the big Christmas events are awesome, but I encourage you to find a few simple Christmas traditions as well.
-Billy Fischer, Contributor

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Every year, the Farkas family takes an afternoon to make Christmas cookies. I’ve done this for 40 years; the only exception was when I was two months old, and I think that seems like a fair excuse. Making cookie with the kids is pure chaos. Aprons don’t help. Eggs end up broken in wrong places. Often, the weight of the frosting on top of the cookie far eclipses the weight of the actual cookie. The end product won’t end up on the Food Network, but I appreciate it more than any Bobby Flay product.
-Dan Farkas, Contributor

My family and I are reserving December 23 for a Christmas day spent downtown. Every year we try to stroll through State Auto’s Christmas Corner that includes a historic life-sized Nativity display. We are also going to stop by the brand spanking new Main Library for the Huntington Holiday Train, which we’ve never checked out before. Both activities should captivate our energetic two-year-old. From there, we’ll grab a bite, aiming for somewhere with that warm, hearty fare that seems appropriate on a cold day. Maybe Press Grill or Jack’s Diner.
-Steve Michalovich, Contributor

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For the past several years my family have grabbed dinner at Milestone 229 or Columbus Brewing Company a few days before Christmas and then walked our fullness off through Bicentennial Park to see and enjoy the holiday lights at the forefront of our wonderful city skyline. This pleasant hike has recently expanded to include Columbus Commons since that area is also a “can’t miss” now in terms of a beautiful downtown holiday spectacle. To add to the mystique and nostalgia of the holidays here in Columbus, I then take my family on a stroll through the State Auto nativity display to enjoy their reaction to this wonderful scene as I used to experience when I was a child.
-Steve Swift, Contributor




We also caught wind of a Christmas Cave a couple hours south of town. Has anyone been there and would recommend?

Downtown Dad

My pride and joy, Jaxon Attilio and Noah Henry. It has always been our focus to add as much culture to the boys lives as possible while guiding them towards their greatest interests and treating them as less experienced adults instead of like “children.” If there was one thing their mom and I definitely agreed upon it was how we wanted to raise the boys. We trusted each other as parents to make this happen. Now, as co-parents, nothing has changed. Our focus is still on adding as many enriching experiences and opportunities to their lives as we can. Now we just do it from different addresses.

I moved to Downtown Columbus about a month ago, physically. I’ve been downtown since I graduated college though. From the myriad of restaurants to parks and from all of the educational and cultural institutions to the great places to just lounge, I love seeking out all of the nooks and crannies of the city so that I can share them with others. I’ve scratched together a few start-ups, worked for some exceptional local companies, created artwork inspired by my surroundings, made some amazing life long friends, and had some worldly experiences all within the city walls of Columbus. In all honesty, I never thought this is where I’d end up spending the majority of my early working days. I didn’t feel like it had the potential nor the support for what it was I wanted to do. Instead of opting out and heading to NY or LA I decided to stay here and make it work. Although it’s not been easy, I’m proud and grateful to say that I have been witness to the expansive growth and cultural development of Columbus. Bringing up two boys during the renaissance of our city is nothing short of awesome.

Columbus, and Ohio in general, have produced some of the most exceptional human beings on the planet. From presidents to athletes, from artists to entrepreneurs, and from doctors to teachers, we have a rich history of educated and ambitious people. I want to make sure that my boys have the same access to opportunity and inspiration as all of our great representatives. Will they become members of such a distinguished crowd? That’s not up to me, that’s up to them. I just want to do my part as a father and make sure that the path in front of them is laden with keys to the future. I believe there is no better place to carve that path, than right here in Columbus, Ohio.

Be sure to check back soon and follow along on some of our great adventures.

By Matthew Barnes, Contributor